Historical Reconstruction: The Lion Gate at Sigiriya

  • The Great Lion Gate Monument at Sigiriya, Modern-Day Sri Lanka
  • For eighteen years in the late fifth century, the Sinhalese capital was moved from Anuradhapura to the remote site of Sigiriya. A thriving city operated at the base of a massive rock formation occupied before and after by buddhist monks. King Kassapa I, fearing military action, had a fortified palace built atop the rock of Sigiriya. The remains of these structures can still be visited today. Also remaining today, on a flat expanse halfway up the rock, are two giant sculpted paws as tall as a man. They are all that remains of a monumental lion sculpture. The remains show the suface was plastered. Stairs led up through the lion’s mouth and wound up the rest of the rock face to the palace at the summit. Without any lasting depictions of the monument, this imagining is based on smaller Sinhalese sculptures of lions.